Matiba seeks re-election on Wangu board

Kenneth Stanley Matiba and a view of Hillcrest School in Nairobi, which formed part of the Matiba family business empire.  Photos/File
Kenneth Stanley Matiba and a view of Hillcrest School in Nairobi, which formed part of the Matiba family business empire. Photos/File  Nation Media Group

Former politician Kenneth Matiba is seeking re-election as a director of a company he founded, indicating his desire to remain active in business in his sunset years.

A notice by Wangu Investments says Mr Matiba has offered himself for re-election as the company’s director at its annual general meeting slated for December 6.

Mr Matiba, 80,  has taken a back seat in the country’s business and political scene due to ill health and his shrinking business empire that has seen him sell assets like Hillcrest Schools, gas maker Carbacid Investment and The People newspaper.

But his intention to remain at the helm of Wangu Investments is a pointer of the importance he attaches to the investment firm despite shareholders call for a younger board.

“In accordance with the company’s articles of association, the following directors retire from office and being eligible offer themselves for re-election,” read part of the notice in reference to Mr Matiba and Patrick Kuria.

“Special notice given to the company…that Mr Mwangi Njoroge a director who has attained the age of 86 be and is hereby re-elected as a director.”
Wangu Investments has been used as a tool for economic, social and political mobilisation in Murang’a County, whose Kiharu Constituency was represented by Mr Matiba as an elected MP between 1983 to 1988 and 1992 to 1997.

The company has vast interests in wheat and barley plantation farming in central Kenya and the Rift Valley. Mr Matiba is reported to retain a small shareholding in Wangu Investments.

At the firm’s AGM last year, shareholders complained about a two-year dividend drought besides demanding the replacement of old directors with younger professionals.

The company, however, said that while it was making profits, it could not distribute dividends since it was making heavy re-investments in a dam and farm machineries and equipment.

Wangu made a profit of Sh17 million in the year ended March last year, with Sh8.6 million of the profit set aside for construction of an irrigation dam, according to its director George Gachugu .

Other major capital investments the company made included the purchase of a combined harvester worth Sh22 million and a tractor worth 12 million.
Mr Matiba, a former Cabinet minister, has in the past three years sold some of his business interests in what has been read as a fading of his business empire built from the 1970s.

In May 2009, he sold his 22 per cent stake to investment firm Centum for Sh418 million. Last year, he lost the Hillcrest Schools after it was sold to private equity firm Fanisi by Barclays Bank of Kenya to reclaim a Sh620 million debt.

The former minister, who has since faded from public limelight as a result of ill health, established Hillcrest Secondary School in 1974, the same year he snapped another fortune, the Naro Moru River Lodge.